I was born in the US, and grew up ranging across America, Western Europe, Scandinavia, New Zealand, and Japan. I was home-schooled until I returned from Finland to New England for public high school. Dropped face-first into the chaos and hustle of a world of American teenagers, I looked around me and concluded that there were too many drastic contradictions to form any basic operational knowledge of the cultural rules (something I’d gotten fairly good at in other places). I had a lot of ideas of what American culture was about, but those ideas kept getting challenged.
I moved back to Japan right after college, living in the rural south and training martial arts. As one of the few foreigners in the region, I was called upon all the time to speak for America, everything from “What do Americans think about raw fish?” to “What do Americans think about capital punishment?” Once I took off my shoes in a hurry, leaving the left pointing north and the right pointing south. An acquaintance tapped me on the shoulder and gestured to my shoes: “Does this symbolize something in America?” I left Japan to travel in North Africa, and my second day in Cairo a cab driver asked me, earnestly, “Why do young Americans move so far away from their parents?” (And here he gave me a pointed look, both I and my backpack covered in a thick coat of Egyptian dust.)
Turned into the voice of authority on all things American, I started looking closely at my country and just what I knew about it. For every fact I could state confidently, there was another one to contradict it. Clutching my passport for proof, I found myself asking the question that’s pursued me through my childhood and into my adulthood: What does it mean to be American? What is American culture as opposed to American nationality? Where, exactly, do I stand in this balance?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the stories that draw me are ones that exist across boundaries, ones where identities are composed of many jagged pieces and where worlds overlap in vibrant, exhilarating and dangerous ways. I am fascinated by characters whose search for intimacy, buried truths, or the dead leads them across established borders—of nationality, gender, sexuality. I’m compelled by communities or cultures struggling with the dynamic energy—and the danger—of globalization. I want to hear voices onstage that are often effectively silenced. I want to see characters who act in opposition to the expectations of their genders. I want to see transgender characters, and characters in the process of transformations of all kinds. My work is generally highly-structured and character-driven, with a strong streak of dark comedy. I'm particularly interested in characters who live on the edges and who experiment with extremes in order to better understand their own humanity. I hope to keep challenging myself—as a playwright, as a nomad, and (dare I say it?) as an American-of-sorts—to push the boundaries of which stories reach us, which characters move us, and how the global community filters into and shapes our conceptions of self.